Back To The Future (2009 re-release)Back To The Future is back! It’s not that there’s never been a Back To The Future soundtrack before; on the contrary, it was quite a hit, leaning heavily on the popular songs by Huey Lewis and the News. It featured a couple of snippets of the orchestral score by Alan Silvestri, and the rest has remained unreleased until now. That’s why this is a big deal. Fans of ’80s movie music speak in glowing terms of such things as the Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies, Excalibur, the Conan movies, songtracks such as The Breakfast Club (and just about anything else John Hughes produced or directed), and the increasingly synth-dominated scoring of movies like Blade Runner. I’m not sure that Alan Silvestri’s music for this movie and its sequels have ever really gotten their due. This 2-CD set should rewrite that particular bit of history nicely – Doc Brown would be proud.

Soundtrack specialty label Intrada felt it was a big deal too – big enough to merit a 2-CD deluxe release, and big enough to take the very unusual step of not limiting Back To The Future‘s print run to 3,000 copies, the typical allocation for a soundtrack release, especially a “vintage” release like this. Very much like this year’s expanded re-release of the soundtrack from Star Trek II, Intrada was aware of – and is banking on – wider interest in this soundtrack than an older score would normally see.

Already having more than a passing familiarity with Back To The Future and its sequels, I was amazed with how many surprises awaited me in this package. I learned quite a few things from the booklet that I didn’t know before, and the music itself was a real revelation in places. How the theme from Back To The Future has managed to escape being enshrined among the movie themes that the general public considers “hummable” is beyond me – it’s very memorable, and Silvestri proves – as he does in much of his other work – that it’s infinitely adaptable: fast, slow, major keys, minor keys, it’s carefully crafted to fit any of those needs.

But there’s much more here that’s memorable: Silvestri’s playful three-note mysterioso “stingers” practically put you right back in the movie, and with action setpieces like “Skateboard Chase” and especially the amazing feat of wall-to-wall action music that is “Clocktower”, this isn’t music that’ll put you to sleep. I was reminded of how dramatic some of the scoring is for a movie that most viewers remember as a comedy. Silvestri does a lot of the legwork in selling some of the movie’s most serious, high-jeopardy moments.

The entire score from Back To The Future fits on the first disc, so what’s on the second disc? It’s an early version of key moments of the movie score. The early version is still recorded with a full orchestra; it’s not an early enough draft to be rough synth sketches or anything less evolved. But there are changes in timing (sometimes sections of the music were replaced to accomodate editing changes) and changes in emphasis: the “’55 Town Square” cue is presented in two early versions, one with trumpets and French horns at full blast, and one with muted brass, and the difference in feel is remarkable. Some of the rescored sections are actually significantly different; Silvestri “lightened” the music in some places for the final version, with the original cues sometimes being a little too dramatic and dark. For the most part, it’s the same music, with changes in the emotional tone – a treat for listeners who are students in how films are scored.

4 out of 4The pop music used in Back To The Future has been more than adequately released, so this presentation of the orchestral score is long overdue – and with the early drafts and extensive liner notes, Intrada has made the wait worthwhile. We can’t really go back in time to give this soundtrack its just recognition down through the years, but this is more than good enough.

Order this CDDisc One

  1. Logo (0:23)
  2. DeLorean Reveal (0:49)
  3. Einstein Disintegrated (1:25)
  4. ’85 Twin Pines Mall (4:45)
  5. Peabody Barn / Marty Ditches DeLorean (3:13)
  6. ’55 Town Square (1:20)
  7. Lorraine’s Bedroom (0:49)
  8. Retrieve DeLorean (1:17)
  9. 1.21 Jigowatts (1.39)
  10. The Picture (1:08)
  11. Picture Fades (0:20)
  12. Skateboard Chase (1:41)
  13. Marty’s Letter (1:21)
  14. George To The Rescue, Part 1 (0:53)
  15. Marvin Be-Bop (source cue) (2:27)
  16. George To The Rescue, Part 2 (2:37)
  17. Tension / The Kiss (1:35)
  18. Goodnight Marty (source cue) (1:33)
  19. It’s Been Educational / Clocktower (10:33)
  20. Helicopter (0:21)
  21. ’85 Lone Pine Mall (3:49)
  22. 4 x 4 (0:43)
  23. Doc Returns (1:16)
  24. Back to the Future (End Credits) (3:18)

Disc Two

  1. DeLorean Reveal (0:43)
  2. Einstein Disintegrated (1:26)
  3. Peabody Barn (2:08)
  4. Marty Ditches DeLorean (1:58)
  5. ’55 Town Square #1 (Trumpet Open) (1:37)
  6. ’55 Town Square #2 (Trumpet Mute) (1:38)
  7. Retrieve DeLorean (1:17)
  8. 1.21 Jigowatts (1:38)
  9. The Picture (1:09)
  10. Skateboard Chase (1:42)
  11. George To The Rescue (4:16)
  12. Tension / The Kiss (1:43)
  13. Clocktower (10:57)
  14. ’85 Lone Pine Mall (3:49)
  15. Doc Returns (1:22)
  16. Ling Ting Ring (unused source cue) (2:01)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2009
Disc one total running time: 49:15
Disc two total running time: 39:24